Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 105: We know it's been a while since we've updated you guys, but we're back from summer vacation and we have lots of new photos and stories. We had a ten day vacation about two weeks ago- which we spent in the East coast of South Korea called Gang-wan-do. We had plans to leave the country to somewhere more exotic but our school put restrictions on travelling outside of Korea because of the Swine Flu :(
Anyways, we made the best of it and found a gorgeous hotel right on the beach for 5 days. This area is well known for its beauty. Our hotel was on a hill overlooking Naksan Beach and right beside Naksan temple which was by far the nicest temple we've been to so far.
Here's a shot of our hotel, and of the view from the top of the hill looking down on the beach. We had a couple overcast days- but we still got alot of sunshine, so no complaints!

At the end of the beach was a fishing port, where many people were buying and selling fresh fish.They must not get a lot of foreigners because we got some interesting looks as we walked threw the area.
We had decided to wake up each morning to watch the sunrise, since the view from the temple was said to be amazing. So on our first morning, we were a little disappointed when it was very dark and grey- but eventually the sun came out and we we able to explore the area.
On our way back to the hotel, we met a monk who was making his way up to the temple. he was extremely friendly once he found out that Brandon was not in the army (as he was wearing his army shorts and had a shaved head) **We should probably mention that Brandon decided to get his hair cut two days before we went on vacation. When he told the hairdresser he wanted a number 3 buzz, she gave him just that. Too bad Brandon meant 3 inches and she thought he meant millimeters, lol. The next day when we got to school, all you could hear in the hallways was kids laughing and repeating, "Brandon teacher has no hair!". **
We also came across this rabbit on our way back to get some breakfast. He was having his own breakfast on the side of the path. He was very content eating his grass, and didn't seem the least bit bothered by us getting nice and close for photos. We nicknamed him the Buddha Bunny.
As you can see from these shots, there were some amazing trees all around the area, it reminded us of the bonzai tree paintings you see. The sunrise on the third morning made up for the previous two days. The sky was already awesome colors when we woke up, so we knew it was going to be epic.

We watched the sunrise and met a really nice Korean couple who offered to take some photos of us (because the guy claimed to be an artist...) Unfortunately, none of the photos he took turned out. They were an interesting couple who spoke fluent English who were missionaries and had traveled all around the United States and Canada. They actually had just been to Hamilton for a Faith convention, small world huh? They were so nice that they had offered to drive us to a really nice beach about a hour away, but we declined since we had not spent a day on our own beach yet.

Here's a photo of the huge Kuan Yin statue at the top of the hill (same statue as in the previous photo). This statue was overlooking the sea, and had beautiful mountains in the background, and was a place we enjoyed coming to every morning for sunrise.
These statues seem to have a calming effect on the visitors, and there was lots of people coming here to pray early in the morning as I guess it is well known among Korean Buddhists. The early morning chants by the monks made for an interesting experience as well.This is a shot of us walking down to the end of the peer where the Harbor was. There was lots of people trying their luck at fishing as this spot is well known for its sea food. The food was one of the trickier parts of the trip, as Shayna is a bigger fan of the Korean BBQ then she is of strange fish soups and octopus and squid dinners.We opted for chicken wings, sub-par hotel hamburgers, and vendor potatoes as there was a carnival type set up by the beach. The carnival provided us some entertainment in the evenings, and Shayna turned out to be quite the dart thrower and rifle shooter and won us a stuff penguin who we named " Maxim " from Naksan.

The beach was awesome, and Brandon picked himself up a boogie board so he could ride the waves. There's something about riding waves that makes you feel like a kid again, and Shayna had no shortage of interesting people to take photos of. We also learned a lesson in Korean beach culture. Everyone on the beach swims and enjoys the beach fully clothed. We practically felt like nudists going into the water in our bathing suits. Funny enough Brandon got a slight sunburn on his stomach, and wore a white shirt swimming which helped him blend right in.
Because of the amount of photos we took, we'll be breaking the vacation blog into two parts, as Seorak Mountain was so beautiful it deserves it's own post. Hope you enjoyed the photos, and stayed tune for part 2 of our summer vacation series.

With Love from South Korea
Brandon and Shayna xo